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By Ren Tomovcik
“Poetry envelops you,” muses Anik Bouvrette. “A beautiful poem pulls you in, even if you don’t fully understand every word - it speaks to you through a feeling. And in the same way, dance can also envelop you.”
Over the course of her career, acclaimed Ottawa choreographer Bouvrette has dedicated herself to increasing the profile of contemporary dance in the capital. Bouvrette’s creative energy has been the source of many vibrant, lively and emotional dance performances, and her collaborations with artists in other disciplines have given her some shining opportunities to captivate new audiences.
Innovative and passionate, Bouvrette is constantly probing the boundaries that separate audience from art, and is eager to present her work in new and unexpected settings. She is particularly interested in the presentation of live performances in the confines of small gallery spaces, where the intimacy of the venue blurs the line between performer and spectator.
“Many people aren’t aware of what contemporary dance really is,” she says. “I want to give people a chance to experience a dance performance in a space where they wouldn’t expect it. Rather than having the audience come to the stage, we can bring the art right to them!”
Juxtaposing movement with another art form brings something new to both art pieces, she explains. “When I put on a dance performance alongside [visual artist] Reid McLachlan’s work, some of his public came to me afterwards and told me that it had made them look at his art with a new perspective. Combined, our work became more than the sum of its parts.”
Recently, Bouvrette also collaborated creatively with producer/director Izabel Barsive to bring the haunting performance piece Lustrale to the big screen. The film adaptation of Bouvrette's Lustrale premiered at the National Gallery during the Ottawa Film Festival this year, and has since been showcased at several Canadian and international film and dance festivals.
Bouvrette is full of praise for her dancers, whom she describes as her ‘voice.’ The dancers are the words in Bouvrette’s visual poetry, responsible for conveying all the emotion and passion that she put into the work to the audience. “Once I start to rehearse a piece with the dancers, the movement passes from my body into their bodies, and there it takes on a new life. I become like a sculptor. Together we give the piece shape, we mold it and we fill it with energy.”
Anik Bouvrette in motion. (Photo by Denine Wrixon)
Ever since taking her first dance class as a girl, Bouvrette has found herself entranced by the creative process. While she was fascinated by the movements she learned from her teacher, she found herself spending time at home coming up with her own routines - even having a friend help her to perform them. “I was always drawn in by the ways in which things came together. To me, dance was about so much more than just the performance. I loved performing, but I was passionate about everything that came before it, about the evolution of a performance.” From those early years onward, her enthusiasm for dance choreography only grew. Bouvrette attended a performing arts program in her teens and eventually went on to graduate from Simon Fraser University with a degree in dance.
In 2006, after several successful years as an independent artist, Bouvrette created her own dance company: Tara Luz Danse. Through Tara Luz, Bouvrette works solely with female dancers. She finds inspiration for her creations through the women in her life and the journey of womanhood. “Tara Luz is all about female energy - it’s a celebration of yin,” she explains. “I wouldn’t necessarily call my work feminist, but it’s definitely female-centered. My pieces tend to be about the journey of a woman, female friendships, solidarity and sisterhood.”
This June, Bouvrette fondly returns to a piece she first created at the very beginning of her career, reviving it for a particularly special performance. The Tara Luz dancers will interpret Bouvrette’s Rafales as part of the grand opening weekend of the new Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans. Rafales is one of three pieces that make up “Carrefour,” an open-air performing arts spectacle that will take place on the plaza in front of the Centre. “Carrefour” features guest artists from two other dance companies, DORSALE Danse and Caroline Barrière Danse, who will join Tara Luz in welcoming visitors to the multidisciplinary arts centre.
Tara Luz dancers Johanna Dalgleish and Julie Anne Ryan rehearse Rafales. (Photo © Lisa Hébert, 2009)
Bouvrette, who originally danced in Rafales herself, sees this performance as a passing of the torch. “When I created this piece, I was an emerging artist - I was just starting out. I wrote it and then I danced in it. Now, seeing it embodied by a new group of women brings things full circle. I chose it because it’s such a dynamic piece, full of big, athletic movements. It’s really well-suited for the outdoors and for a celebration like this one.”
Tara Luz Danse is now one of Shenkman Arts Centre’s resident arts organizations, and the prospect of working in close proximity with so many other artists is a tantalizing one for Bouvrette. “This is such an exciting time for the arts community in Orleans and across Ottawa. We finally have all the different art disciplines under one roof, and we can easily exchange ideas, inspire each other and find common ground. It’s just the beginning of an amazing journey.”
In the years since she began her career, Bouvrette has experienced a life-changing journey of her own - she’s become a mother to two young daughters. Now, it’s only natural that the story of motherhood should find its way into her latest endeavour. She is currently working on a new project entitled Ce souffle qui m’habite [“This breath that lives inside me”], inspired by the emotion and the curiousity of discovering motherhood.
“Being a mother has brought a sense of play back into my work,” explains Bouvrette. “Dancing is about being aware and present in the here and now, and that’s something that comes naturally to kids. Going from playing with my daughters to creating in the studio is an easy transition - my mind is open and playful. Being a mother has nurtured my creativity - it’s a new experience every day.”
Ottawa looks forward to continuing Bouvrette’s journey along with her, as she weaves the next chapter of her life into the movement and passion of performance. One thing is for sure, we can certainly expect the unexpected.
TARA LUZ DANSE PRESENTS "CARREFOUR"
June 18th - 21st 2009
On the Agora Minto-Orleans (outdoor plaza) in front of Shenkman Arts Centre
Thursday, June 18th - 6:30 pm
Friday, June 19th - 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 20th - 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm
Sunday, June 21st - 1:00 pm & 4:00 pm
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